WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The State of Utah was in for a treat Saturday night at the Maverik Center when the four in-state Division I gymnastics programs clashed at the Rio Tinto Best of Utah NCAA Gymnastics meet. Feeding off the 6,542 fans in attendance, the No. 4-ranked Utah gymnasts rolled past its in-state foes to win the inaugural event.
Utah reached the 197-mark for the first time this season and scored a 197.000 at the podium event. BYU earned a second-place finish with a 195.575, Southern Utah finished in third place with a 194.650, while Utah State totaled 194.150 to place fourth.
“We were building on routines in tonight’s performance and were in a better space in terms of rhythm of the meet,” said Utah head coach Tom Farden. “There were certain things we wanted to work on and several routines improved in those areas. It is still a work in progress, but hitting the 197-mark in our second meet is a positive sign.”
Utah got it going early and set the tone for the night by posting a 49.175 on vault. Sydney Soloski went 9.825 to start the set, followed by a terrific vault from Cammy Hall that would score as the Utes’ highest on the night. Hall’s vault came in at a 9.875, which would place second overall in the individual event standings. Solid scores from Missy Reinstadtler(9.825) and Alexia Burch (9.80) led Kim Tessen to close out the first rotation with a 9.850 as the anchor.
Emilie LeBlanc led off Utah’s bars team with a 9.80, while Cristal Isa carried the momentum into her routine and scored 9.875 on her first event of the night. Hunter Dula continued the solid bars set with a 9.825, and after a few mishaps toward the backend of the lineup, Tessen came up big for Utah and hit a phenomenal routine to earn a career-high 9.95, which would win the bars title. Propelled by Tessen’s performance, Utah totaled 49.225 on bars to extend the lead.
Beam proved to be difficult for the rest of the field on Saturday night, but Utah showed composure on beam and handled the pressure, totaling 49.275 to take control of the meet. LeBlanc once again got things started for the Utes and earned a 9.825. Abby Paulson went 9.90 for the second time on beam in two meets, which earned the freshman the beam title for the first event victory of her career. Isa (9.875), Randall (9.825), and Maile O’Keefe (9.850) made it 6-of-6 hit routines on beam to ensure the Red Rocks retained the lead after three rotations.
With hopes of hitting the 197-mark in sight, Isa and Randall delighted the crowd with back-to-back 9.875’s to open the floor set. Competing in the all-around on Saturday, O’Keefe closed out her night with the first floor routine of her Ute career and scored a 9.85. Tessen continued her excellent night with a beautiful 9.90 routine, while Soloski tallied a 9.825 that would total Utah’s floor score to 49.325 and push Utah to a final score of 197.000.
Utah will have a bye-week before competing its first conference meet of the year on Friday, Jan. 24 against Arizona State at 7:00 p.m.